Excessive alcohol drinking is bad for the body. Also called alcohol addiction, alcohol abuse, or alcoholism, it puts your health at great risk of diseases that can severely impair your bodily functions. It can also trigger many short-term and long-term symptoms and complications that can significantly affect your day-to-day life.
What causes alcohol addiction?
There are many different reasons why people get addicted to alcohol. According to health professionals, they can be genetic, environmental, social, or psychological. Based on data, alcoholism is most common in people who are in their 20s and 30s, but it can also start as early as the teenage years.
Below are some factors that cause alcoholism:
Those who have a family member, such as a parent or a close relative, who is addicted to alcohol have a greater risk of developing the condition themselves.
Mental health problems
Those who are struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, or some other mental health disorder have been found to be most likely to engage in excessive alcohol intake and develop an alcohol addiction.
Being around friends, coworkers, or acquaintances who drink can raise your odds of alcohol addiction. For example, if you often spend your time after work with your team at the bar to drink, this can lead to a habit of drinking that can be detrimental to your health in the long run.
History of trauma
Suffering from emotional or some other kind of trauma, such as being in an abusive household, sometimes make people drink a lot of alcohol for a long period of time.
Undergoing bariatric surgery
To lose weight faster, many who are struggling with obesity undergo bariatric surgery, which is a procedure in which the stomach is reduced in size with a gastric band, by removing a portion of it, or some other method. According to some studies, your risk of developing alcohol addiction may increase if you go through this kind of surgery.
What are the common warning signs of alcohol addiction?
Alcohol addiction can range from mild to severe, and it causes different signs and symptoms to appear, including the following:
- Strong urge or craving to drink alcohol
- Frequent drinking of large amounts of alcohol
- Inability to control the amount of alcohol you drink
- Continued drinking of alcohol despite being aware of its negative physical, mental, emotional, and social side effects
- Having the desire or attempting to limit the amount of alcohol you drink but are unsuccessful
- Neglect of responsibilities at work, home, or school
- Losing interest in your hobbies, family, and friends
- Experiencing shaking, sweating, nausea, and other withdrawal symptoms when you do not drink
How can alcohol addiction impact your health?
If not addressed and treated as soon as possible, your alcohol problem can cause a variety of serious health problems that can impair your vital organs and important bodily functions. The following are the dangerous side effects of excessive alcohol consumptions:
Too much alcohol in the body can cause an inflammation of your stomach lining and ulcers of the stomach and esophagus. It can disrupt nutrient absorption, and can also damage your pancreas, increasing your risk of pancreatitis.
Excessive alcohol drinking can raise the fat levels in your liver, causing hepatic steatosis. It can also result in inflammation or alcoholic hepatitis. Over time, it can create lots of irreversible scarring and destruction of your liver tissue, causing cirrhosis.
People who drink too much tend to have high blood pressure levels, which increase their risk of a heart attack, stroke, or enlarged heart.
Drinking a lot of alcohol for a long time can cause pain and numbness in your feet, hands, and other body parts. It can also impair your memory, focus, and other brain function, increasing your risk of dementia.
In men, alcoholism can profoundly influence their sexual and reproductive health. Those that are excessive alcohol drinkers are more likely to develop erectile dysfunction and have reduced sex drive, poor sperm count, and other problems.
Increased cancer risk
Many studies have found that there is a link between long-term alcohol abuse and cancer. According to the findings, those that are long-term heavy drinkers have a greater risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, liver cancer, esophageal cancer, mouth cancer, throat cancer, and others.
Alcohol addiction can impair your immune system, leaving you unable to fight off various infections and diseases.
High levels of alcohol in the body prevent the growth and development of strong and healthy bones. They can lead to the thinning of your bones or osteoporosis, increasing your risk of sprains, fractures, and other bone injuries. They can also damage your bone marrow, reducing your platelet count and making your prone to bleeding and bruising.
How is alcohol addiction treated?
To cure your alcohol problem, you have to go see a doctor. You will be asked to provide information on your drinking habits, undergo a physical exam, and take various imaging tests and laboratory tests to determine the cause of the problem. You may also be referred to a mental health professional who will perform an evaluation of your behavior, feelings, thoughts, and other symptoms.
Depending on the cause of your alcohol use disorder, you may be recommended any of the following treatment solutions:
Detoxification and withdrawal program
This is usually done at a hospital or inpatient treatment center and takes two to seven days.
This can be a group or individual counseling session. It aims to help people understand the effects of alcohol abuse, and provide support throughout their treatment and recovery.
There is an oral or injectable drug that can be prescribed by your doctor to prevent you from drinking. It works by causing a physical reaction, such as headaches, nausea, and vomiting if you drink alcohol.
Mental health care
Cases of alcohol addiction caused by mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are usually treated through therapy.